Meat from the laboratory could help minimize the environmental and climate problems of today's meat production. In view of today's factory farming, Winston Churchill's quote from 1932 becomes extremely relevant again: “We will move away from the madness of breeding a whole chicken to eat the breast or the wing and instead breed it in a suitable medium . "
Through current innovations in cell biological and medical research in the field of cell and tissue cultivation in vitro, processes have been developed that can also be adapted for food production. The vision of an innovative, sustainable meat production looks like this: From the appropriate farm animal, e.g. For example, pork, beef, lamb or poultry, a cell culture consisting of multiplying cells is created from a small tissue biopsy. These cells are grown on a large scale in bioreactors and then used as high-quality animal protein or further induced into muscle cells.
The calculated ecological balance of this laboratory meat or “clean meat” is remarkable: Compared to the conventional production of beef or pork, significantly less water and energy would be consumed, land consumption would be negligible and even the emission of greenhouse gases would be massively reduced.
In order for the new processes to work on an industrial scale, a number of hurdles have to be overcome. The increase in cell mass is currently a challenge and new, automated technologies are required.
The Fraunhofer EMB has been researching on cell proliferation for several years and has established a patented process for this. The cells grow encapsulated in a hydrogel drop (Fig. 1) in an automated bioreactor.
The combination of different cells with the corresponding hydrogel is currently being tested (Fig. 2). Furthermore, the initially manual encapsulation process is further optimized and automated.